Everyone makes mistakes or has been somewhere at the wrong place at the wrong time and gotten in trouble. For some, the consequences of these mistakes are minor. Unfortunately for others, these mistakes can result in a criminal record that is open and available to the public. While most criminal records cannot be erased, Texas law does allow you to remove information about an arrest, charge, or conviction in certain circumstances. If permanently deleting your criminal record is not an option, the law also allows for it to be removed from the public record and sealed. These actions are known as expunctions or non-disclosure orders.
Are you Eligible for an Expunction?
The rules dictating expunction of Texas criminal records can be found in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. If you are eligible to have your criminal record expunged, all information is removed from the public record and you can legally deny that the incident ever occurred. In addition, you are not required to disclose on an employment application or other documents that you were ever arrested, charged, or convicted for the particular incident.
Criminal records that are eligible for expunction include:
- An arrest for a crime that was never charged;
- A criminal charge that was ultimately dismissed;
- Certain qualifying misdemeanor juvenile offenses;
- Conviction of a minor for certain alcohol offenses;
- Conviction for Failure to Attend School;
- Arrest, charge or conviction on a person’s record due to identity theft by another individual that was actually arrested, charged or convicted of the crime;
- Conviction for a crime that was later acquitted by the trial court or the Criminal Court of Appeals; and
- Conviction for a crime that was later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the U.S. President.
Texas Non-Disclosure Orders
If an expunction is not available because of the nature of the offense, you may still be eligible for a non-disclosure order. An order of non-disclosure prohibits criminal agencies from disclosing your record to the public. If your records are sealed by a non-disclosure order, you do not have to reveal the details of the incident in applications or other documents.
However, even with a non-disclosure order in place, criminal agencies are permitted to release your criminal information to other criminal agencies, authorized noncriminal justice agencies, and to you. The information may also be released for subsequent criminal prosecutions.
The rules and regulations regarding non-disclosure orders can be found in Government Code 411.081. You are eligible for an order of non-disclosure if you successfully complete deferred adjudication and received a discharge and dismissal of the deferred adjudication for a Class B crime or above. You can apply for a non-disclosure order immediately upon completion of your deferred adjudication requirements if the offense did not involve, sex, guns or violence.
If the crime does involve those areas, then you will have to wait five years before applying for the non-disclosure order. If the incident involved a felony arrest, the waiting period to apply for an order is 5 years. Even if you received deferred adjudication, these orders are not available for kidnapping offenses, sex crimes, abandonment or endangerment of a child, injury to a child, the elderly or disabled, violation of a protective order, stalking or crimes involving family violence.
Call an Experienced Attorney Now
The process of expunging or sealing a criminal record is lengthy and complex. If you or someone that you know wants their criminal record erased in the Denton County or Tarrant County, or surrounding area, let Chris Abel help. Call or contact the office today to begin working on your case.